From waste to wow: getting creative with chewing gum litter

From waste to wow: getting creative with chewing gum litter

Look down at the streets of Singapore and you will notice a significant difference. There is no unsightly chewing gum litter despoiling the pavement.  That’s because chewing gum is actually banned in Singapore. However, we are unlikely to ever follow suit in the UK, and sadly there will always be people who cause litter problems with used gum.  Chewing gum litter is a particular issue as it is both time-consuming and expensive to remove from public places. 

In an attempt to alleviate chewing gum mess, here at Amberol we came up with the idea of the Gum and Ciggy Bin, which also provides a safe disposal place for that other blight of the UK high street, cigarette butts. We applaud any attempt to solve the problem of litter on our streets, so when we heard about a UK designer called Anna Bullus, who is recycling old chewing gum to make items like travel cups, pencils and guitar picks, we were impressed. And the really clever part? She collects the gum she needs in a special ‘Gumdrop’ bin, made from; you guessed it, recycled chewing gum! 

How is chewing gum litter recycled? 

Whether it tastes fruity or minty, the main ingredient in chewing gum is polyisobutylene, a synthetic rubber with very similar properties to plastic. Bullus takes the chewing gum she collects in her bubblegum-pink Gumdrops to a recycling plant where they are combined with other recycled plastic polymers. The resulting Gum-tec products that are developed in collaboration with a plastic moulding specialist, are composed of around 20% recycled chewing gum. 

How do people feel about using products made from old chewing gum? 

Bullus reports that although people initially felt unsure about using a product made from something that had previously been in someone else’s mouth, with some people even sniffing the travel cups she gave out at the University of Winchester to publicise her scheme, they soon got on board. 

A recycling success story 

When railway stations and other places with a chewing gum litter problem installed Gumdrops, they noticed a significant reduction in chewing gum litter. In fact the University of Winchester reported an amazing £6000 decrease in cleaning costs relating to clearing up hard-to-remove chewing gum! And the fact that it takes around 42 pieces of used chewing gum to make just one travel cup, means the recycling benefits are fantastic too. 

Changing practices in the chewing gum industry 

Until they develop a fully biodegradable product, chewing gum companies face the threat of increased taxes due to the problems their products cause. In light of this, Wrigley’s have invested financially in Gumdrop Ltd and also donate surplus product from their Plymouth factory to the company. 

Where can I find a Gumdrop? 

If there are no distinctive bright pink Gumdrops where you live, you can always buy a Gumdrop On-the-go mini Gumdrop to dispose of your used gum for recycling. Also, watch out for Amberol’s Gum & Ciggy bins which can be found in many public places around the UK. 

If you are looking for a solution to the unsightly and costly problem of chewing gum litter and would like more information about Amberol’s Gum & Ciggy Bin, please contact us at sales@amberol.co.uk or call 01773 830 930.

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